The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic means the La Porte High School Class of 2020 has to miss out on the last few months of their senior year. What would otherwise be a normal day for La Porte students instead became a special reunion for students and educators as they flocked to the high school to pick up caps and gowns on Thursday, May 14th.
Despite the rainy weather, many La Porte Community School Corporation educators spent the entirety of their afternoons outside. For many students and educators in the community, they wanted to reunite in the most in-person way that social distancing would allow. Graduating seniors may not have another chance to see everyone, so it was a bittersweet, yet special way to be able to wave and say “Hello!” through the car windows.
In addition to LPCSC educators volunteering their time to hand out caps and gowns, they also gifted each senior a yard sign a special Class of 2020 to represent their achievements.
It was a bittersweet day for most Slicers, but the saying “Once a Slicer, Always a Slicer” remains forever.
A familiar face is wrapping up his 40th and final year at the new La Porte Middle School. While he is finishing his teaching career virtually instead of in-person, science teacher Gary Alexander has been fortunate to have worked with such incredible students who have made this unfortunate situation easier.
Alexander grew up in Kentland, Indiana. After graduating high school, he pursued a major in physical education with a minor in biology education at Purdue University in West Lafayette.
His first teaching job began at Hobart Junior High School in 1978. Alexander taught 7th and 8th grade science for two years at Hobart, before he ventured out into La Porte, where he has spent the last 30 years teaching the La Porte youth.
While teaching at Kesling Junior High School in 1980, he decided to work on earning a Master’s degree inphysical education with a minor in general science. With this minor, Alexander was able to stay at Kesling during the transition from junior high school to what is now La Porte Middle School.
Ever since 1980, Alexander has taught 8th grade science. His second year at La Porte is when he ventured into his “sporty” side. He started coaching volleyball and track. His coaching career has lasted for 30 years on the volleyball court and 29 years on the track.
Eighth grade has been special to him all these years because of the energy brought into the classroom daily. He takes pride in the numerous activities that he has developed during his time at Kesling. His many classes have worked with the outdoor education program and have planted over hundreds of trees and flowers near Kesling Park.
In 1985, he started the model rocket project and has continued it with his classes every year since.
Alexander admits that teaching science was far more interesting than he ever imagined it would be.
“I really enjoy the different subjects we teach in General Science because it keeps things interesting for me,” Alexander said.
On top of following the usual curriculum, Alexander had to figure out how he was going to teach virtually during a global pandemic.
“It is really difficult to find ways to present the material to the kids and keep it fresh and interesting,” Alexander said. “Combine that with kids not stayingup to date with their assignments and not understanding the intricacies of navigating through the online text and it's supplementary materials, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time just explaining WHAT to do rather than explaining the content of the lessons..”
Even though finishing his career during a global pandemic is not the ideal way to finish such a long, successful career, Alexander is making the best of it.
“My retirement will not be stagnant. I have many projects waiting for me here at home. I'm already working on remodeling a bathroom,” Alexander said. “I will continue working with the 4-H archery program, I’m still district director of the Indiana Field Archery Association, and my wife and I are chapter directors of our local chapter of the Goldwing Road Riders Association.”
The teaching chapter of Alexander’s life is coming to an end, but he has lifelong memories that he willcherish forever.
What’s Coming Up
On May 5th, the updates for the class of 2020’s graduation ceremony were released. The school’s administration decided to continue their plans to holdan in-person graduation ceremony. The set date is July 8th at 7:00 P.M. at Kiwanis Field. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will instead take place on July 9th at 7:00 P.M. at Kiwanis Field.
This ceremony will be different than past graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing will still be a massive role in everyone’s day-to-day life. In June, LPHS will send out tickets with the amount of permitted guests. Until then, nothing is completely set in stone. Every day is changing and evolving in various ways, so LPHS administration are doing their best to keep an open mind, especially for the Class of 2020.
Before La Porte High School’s in-person classes were moved to strictly online, there were many events that were supposed to take place. One that many students were looking forward to most was the National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society induction ceremonies that were scheduled for March 18th.
Instead, they had to call off the ceremony since in-person classes and all school events were cancelled. This week in an attempt to think outside the box, La Porte High School released a video congratulating all of the inductees. Even though they were not physically able to celebrate, it still meant the world to many students to see their accomplishments honored.